Cavs and Warriors, Kendrick and Drake, The Streets and Silicon Valley

Streets and Silicon Valley
(LeBron pic: Brandon Wade/AP; Curry pic: USATSI)

These tweets have nothing to do with the actual game of basketball, yet they sum up why people are rooting for the Cavs or the Warriors in this year’s tiebreaking NBA Finals rematch:

Do you like spotless victories, or back-and-forth trench battles to the bitter end?

Do you rate skill over strength?

Does LeBron actually remind you of an uncle or other male relative in your life?

Do you find light-skinned Black men/women more attractive than darker Black men/women? Do you despise colorism?

Did you grow up in Midwestern projects?

Do you like Drake more than Kendrick? Kendrick more than Drake? Is a street nigga more real than most or is real beyond the streets?

If you care about race, hip-hop culture, smartphones, and basketball—most people under the age of 30 on Twitter—your beliefs and preferences probably show in who you’re rooting for in this series.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty these teams have in common:

  • Curry and LeBron are both family men to the fullest who married longtime girlfriends from their hometowns.
  • Kevin Love and Klay Thompson grew up together.
  • Curry and Kyrie Irving both have dads that played professional basketball.
  • Both teams have made the 3-point shot a heavy part of their respective games.

But ultimately, it wouldn’t be such a great rivalry without some contrast. The people, the tastes, shit, the ideologies that these teams have grown to represent definitely oppose each other.

The Cavs

The Cavaliers are gritty. The navy blue, “wine” red and gold they don on their jerseys are solid, not flashy. Shit, anything that makes it out of Cleveland, Ohio can’t be that pretty, right?

Despite all of that, this behemoth of a man (rapper) pledges his absolute loyalty to the franchise and Cleveland (Compton) after going out to have a taste of his own personal glory. Any fair overall assessment of his ability leads to one conclusion: this guy is the best active basketball player (rapper) in the world right now. Behind him are equally tough, electrifying talents providing flair and support for the King (Kendrick).

The Warriors

The Warriors are pristine. The midnight blue provides a stark contrast to that bright ass version of gold (OVO) that blinds us when the logo is displayed on an enormous screen during SportsCenter or NBA Countdown on ESPN. Though Oakland is no fairyland (“this ain’t a fairytale land neither”), the Warriors seem equally San Francisco: clean, efficient, high-tech. If Draymond Green is the rough side of the Bay, the new-age offensive might of Steph, Klay, and KD (Drake’s crossover appeal) are the embodiment of Silicon Valley.

Do you see where they pull up from on the court? Do you see how stupidly easy a Kevin Durant dunk or layup (Drake hit single) gets made? Does Steph Curry even get touched on his way to the rim? It’s like watching an iPhone 7 commercial when these guys play.

Along with repping their hometowns to the fullest, the identities of these two franchises (hip-hop artists) also represent a race and class divide unique to our time.

The Streets 

The toughness of the Cavaliers, the I’ll-take-on-anyone demeanor, stems from the face of the franchise. LeBron moved from apartment to apartment, shitty neighborhood to shitty neighborhood as a kid in Akron. His mom, realizing a more stable home would be better for the boy, allowed him to live with a local youth football coach. To come from that (Compton) and be the example of leadership, greatness, and humility that LeBron (Kendrick) has become is marvelous.

Along with James’ rise from the streets to stardom are the images of JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, both additions to the Cavs as they began the 3-year (and probably counting) run to the NBA Finals that they’re currently on. Shumpert is engaged to one of the baddest Black women in music, is from Chicago, is relatively dark-skinned, and still rocks braids.

Between the tats, the stories of him clubbing and DMing women, and quotes like, “I’d rather take a contested shot than an open shot any day,” J.R. Smith’s (ScHoolboy Q’s) brand of idgaf adds “Yeah, nigga!” to the otherwise composed strength of the Cavs (TDE).

Silicon Valley

Steph Curry’s dad (Weezy) was in the NBA (big in the rap game). His mom is beautiful. His wife is beautiful. His sister is beautiful. His oldest daughter is adorable. And they’re all light-skinned Black women, or a girl in Riley’s case. Klay Thompson’s dad was in the NBA as well. He grew up in Lake Oswego, Oregon, playing Little League baseball with Kevin Love (acting on Degrassi) and shit before moving to the affluent Ladera Ranch (Houston) in Southern California and taking basketball (rap) seriously. They both seemed destined for some kind of sports (entertainment) greatness.

The Splash Brothers (Drizzy and PND?) couldn’t be better representatives of the sleek, millennial feel of the NBA (hip-hop). Despite being the current champions (2016 Grammy for Best Rap Album), it just never seems like Cleveland (Kendrick) will be viewed as superior to Golden State (Drake).

It’s like saying any Android phone is better than the iPhone, even if the Google Pixel and the Galaxy S8 are fire as fuck. The Warriors’ steal the spotlight with bigger numbers (phone sales, album and single sales) and controversial adjustments (no headphone jack, making more dancehall tracks) on their way to regaining top dog status in the eyes of the public.

LeBron (Kendrick) might be the truest face of the league (hip-hop), but Curry (Drake, Apple) is the leading brand. Long-range shooting, small lineups, and a point-forward (sing-rapping, pop-crossover, streaming) is the new way of the league (hip-hop, tech), and the Warriors (Drake, Apple) are the leaders of it.

Players like Draymond Green (You know Chubbs like Draymoooond) and Zaza Pachulia are the hardware allowing the software to work its highly advanced magic.

Kevin Durant is interesting because if he won a title with OKC, he’d essentially be a younger LeBron. Instead, he took his elegant, ambitious game to the Bay. He took years of hardship in the DMV, the bitter finishes with OKC, and flipped it into a cushy position at the league’s top organization.

We know what Durant is about, but we have to respect that he’s bougie now. Like Dr. Dre selling Beats to Apple or something like that.

You probably didn’t think your $20 bet on the Cavs had anything to do with you liking DAMN. more than More Life. Or Galaxies more than iPhones. And maybe you think Klay Thompson is better than DeMar DeRozan because you wear a shooting sleeve during AAU games in a pleasant suburb right outside of a big city. But all of life is interconnected, my friend. What you think, what you feel, what you believe, and what you do. All of that is linked to the same shit, somewhere deep down.

Also, you’re foolish if you think the Warriors are letting this one get away from them. They were on the verge of a repeat without Durant.


  1. Thompson echoed that sentiment, saying that since it s the fourth-straight time the Warriors and Cavaliers are meeting in The Finals, it s normal for there to be some animosity between the teams.


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